So, Thanksgiving dinner wasn't exactly as we had planned. Not exactly a Norman Rockwell portrait.
We were originally thinking we would have approximately 10 people for dinner; myself and dh., dd #1 and her son, ds #3 and dd#3, mom and dad in law, and possibly* ds #1 and his girlfriend. Only dd #2 and ds #2 and his wife would be missing (they both live out of state).
However, due to schedule conflicts, we lost ds #3 and dd #3 and ds #1 and his girlfriend. Due to sickness, mom and dad in law bowed out.
That left us with me, dh, dd #1 and grandson. Table for 4. Which was nice.
Dd #3 and ds #3 both stopped by after dinner and it was so good to see their faces. We spoke with mom and dad in law by phone and they are feeling some better. We spoke with ds #1 on the phone as he headed back to Illinois for his high school girl's basketball team's Thanksgiving Weekend tournament.
I missed a call from my brother in India the day before and was sort of bummed about that, especially since it was only because I didn't take my phone with me into the "powder room". (shucks, but thank GOD he and his wife are OK, in light of the terrorist attacks elsewhere in India).
And you know, this is just our reality. We are a blended family. We have six children. They live in 3 states and 5 cities, other than the one we live in.
They have step-siblings and half siblings and step parents and special friends (who may have steps and halves, too). It's complicated. It's not easy. It's not what we grew up to believe was 'normal'. But, it's our normal. Honestly, it is likely to become most everyone's normal, at some time or another.
So what do we do with our holiday realities, especially when they do not meet our holy-day expectations? When there is disappointment and chaos and nobody will do or be what they are supposed to (according to mama's ideas about what is 'right'?).
As a woman who divorced her children's father, when the kids were one and three years old, I had to learn a loong time ago, to attach no particular sacredness to a day on a calendar. Meaning, for example, the last Thursday of November cannot be the only day I am willing to call Thanksgiving. If I am unwilling to be flexible about my beliefs about the holidays, I am guaranteed to be disappointed.
(said in mama drama fashion, complete with hand-wringing) "Do our children love us less if they eat turkey elsewhere on the holidays? Do they not care? Why aren't we number one, instead of their inlaws, stepfamily, boyfriend/girlfriends family? Don't they know how much we love them? Don't they think of us? After all we've done for them?" sigh
Somewhere along the way, I decided that the gift we would give our adult children was freedom. Freedom from expectations. Freedom from parental guilt. Freedom to spend the holy-days, as they wanted or needed to. I have watched them agonize about how to make everyone happy. How to be two places at once. How to enjoy their day off, when it required moving from table to table, house to house and sometimes, city to city just to see all they people they love. (head sadly shaking) No siree, I decided. Not my kids. Not on my watch.
Solomon’s Wise Judgment16 Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him. 17 And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. 18 Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house. 19 And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20 So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21 And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”22 Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.”And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.”Thus they spoke before the king.
23 And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’|24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. 25 And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”
26 Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”27 So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.” 28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.
As adults who have remarried, it is our place to acknowledge that it was our decision to divorce the parent of our children. Our inability to make it work, has affected their lives daily and permanently. They didn't get to choose. They have lived with the consequences of our decisions. I do not want my children to be cut in half, every time a holiday is circled in red on the calendar.
So, we just tell them there is plenty of food and they are always welcome, singly, or with their special friend, child(ren), spouses, etc. If they can't come, it's OK. We know they love us.
I just hope they know that they are, by far, our greatest earthly treasures.
Now, to lighten the mood, here are Caleb and Jared, in the great Thanksgiving Day Smackdown.
I'm pretty sure Jared will be a great dad someday (grin). I hope he brings the future wife and grand kids around once and awhile.
We'll always be here. :~)